Black in Boone organizes vigil for Breonna Taylor

Candles+were+placed+on+an+altar+in+honor+of+Breonna+Taylor%2C+displaying+community+members%27+grief+and+acknowledgement+of+Taylor%27s+death.+

Kara Haselton

Candles were placed on an altar in honor of Breonna Taylor, displaying community members’ grief and acknowledgement of Taylor’s death.

Jackie Park and Emily Broyles

Black in Boone, a Black-led advocacy group, organized a vigil for Breonna Taylor Friday, drawing close to 100 people with an aim to support Black women.

“Ancestors watching, I know your watching, ancestors watching, I know, I know,” rang through Cornerstone Summit Church as participants brought candles and flowers to place on a vigil for Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky in March. 

Just after midnight on March 13, police officers broke down the door of Taylor’s apartment where she was asleep with her boyfriend. The pair heard what sounded like banging on the door, and when plainclothes officers entered, her boyfriend shot one round from his gun. Police responded with several shots, five of which hit Taylor. She did not receive medical attention for more than 20 minutes, and later died from her injuries, according to The Courier-Journal.

On Sept. 23, a Kentucky grand jury did not file homicide charges toward two officers who fired shots into Taylor’s home and said they were justified. Another officer was charged with “recklessly firing rounds that endangered people in a neighboring unit,” according to the Washington Post.

Organizers of the vigil laid slips of paper with the names of Black women who have been killed, but whose names hadn’t been recognized like Breonna Taylor’s, on every seat in the church.

“I want you to leave here today and I want you to share the stories of these women, and these young girls, whose names weren’t enough to start a revolution,” one organizer of the vigil said.

Korbin Cummings, a member of Black at App State, said that now, she is numb to situations like Breonna Taylor’s. When she first heard about her death, she didn’t cry. She wasn’t angry.

“I wasn’t shocked by it, and that’s not normal, and it shouldn’t be normalized” Cummings said.

Walter Lowe, an App State senior, said the past few days have been hard on him, thinking of the Black women in his family.

“I just felt I could do more for Black women all around … That could have been my little sister, that could have been my mom,” he said.

App State senior Matt Scott said he, like Lowe, has witnessed Black women in his family struggle. Similarly in his internship, Scott noticed qualified Black women in lower positions. He said Black men “need to initiate that change.”

“Black men often put Black women on the frontlines and expect them to shield us. That’s not how things should work,” said Charles Fennell, a senior. “Black men, in order to show up for Black women the right way, we have to stand in front of Black women and protect Black women. Because when we don’t, we see what happens.”

Saturday, Black in Boone hosted a planning session called “Solidarity in Action,” in which participants will create plans to “push the movement in Boone and on App State’s campus forward.” The session took place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. via Zoom.

Colbie Lofton, a member of the Black at App State Collective, said that support, to her, is “50-50.”

“This is one, at the vigil, coming out. But, the other half of it is engaging in discussion … and also applying pressure to people in power that are able to create policy changes so that there can be a cultural shift,” said Lofton, a junior.